If you don’t know where you’re going, any road leads there! A PR strategy tells you exactly where you’re going with your media activity and how you’re going to get there. There are three key steps in building your B2B PR strategy: Deciding who to communicate with, what about, and finally how to communicate with them.
Remember the aim always is to demonstrate measurable results from your media activity, and it all starts with planning.
1. Who to Communicate With.
You need to research and identify who your core and peripheral customers are.
The core customers are those who are earliest and most frequent adopters and users of your products. The peripheral customers are those who also benefit from your services but may not be those for whom the product was designed.
They have different user experiences of your product, and the key drivers for their use of your services need to be understood. Customer service calls, client visits and correspondence with them will identify a list of requirements for each group.
Mike Mindel, one of the pioneers of internet search, even before the advent of Google, told me “people search according to their lacks. It’s what they’re missing they look for on the web.”
So when thinking of client needs, think of the things they lack, and that will be a great steer on what they need to hear to engage with your products, and what attributes they will want to see in your brand to engage with it.
Next find out what is being written and published about these lacks and how they are being met overall in your sector.
Set up Google alerts and RSS feeds for your product or service grouping, your industry, or any other topic of interest.This will give you a grounding of what is on the news agenda and what is being written about for your customers or about your type of service.
This sort of monitoring should be continuous. As a B2B business it's very important you pay particular attention to what's going on in your industry. Events, conferences, forums... they could be opportunities for you to reach your prospects.
Once you know who your customers are, what their lacks are and what is being written for their consumption you’re ready to create the first output of your PR strategy: the goals of the campaign.
2. Setting PR Goals as a B2B business.
A goal is not a goal unless it can be measured. Goals fall unto 2 broad categories: Brand Recognition or Brand Response.
Brand recognition aims to establish your company as an authority, a subject matter expert in its field. A campaign with a brand recognition goal would demonstrate your expertise, knowledge and understanding of your market, its trends and performance, and how you meet or cater to those trends.
You might ask how a start-up or new entrant does that, but by launching your business you have shown you’ve done the research, know the gaps in the market and are ready to fill them.
Moreover, the work you did in monitoring the market and identifying primary and secondary users of your product and what’s being said about the sector in the media, not to mention feedback from your existing clients, all give you subject matter expertise. This news is grist to the mill for journalists who are constantly trying to scoop the world on how markets tick and what’s going to happen next.
Brand response as a goal in PR aims to convert that expertise into sales and client engagement. Some companies can quickly go to the brand response goal, but many may benefit form PR aimed at creating a buzz round their brand as a market leader or a savvy company who knows the score in its sector. Choose your goal and we will deal with measuring it later.
3. What you say to the audience.
With the target audience identified and the goals of the campaign established you must now focus on your messaging - what you want to say to your target audience.
Brainstorm the value propositions you will offer in your messaging based on the profile of the target audience, their lacks, and how you want to influence their behaviour.
Experience will have shown you what are the biggest motivators for primary and secondary clients to engage with your brand, and what their lacks are. Not only should pitch messaging appeal to their interests and needs, but your research will also have thrown up what is already being said about those needs in your sector.
Be different, move the story on, show that you know what was said before and move your messaging to the next level but keep it relevant. You don’t want to say what everyone has already said because it’s not news, it’s simply a me-too, and gets less tractions with journalists.
4. How you get your message across.
Having decided what your pitch messaging is you can now decide which media you will use to get your message out. Your monitoring and research at the very first stage will have helped you identify the candidate media to achieve this task. You will know already which media are important to your market and which journalists are the most influential.
Decide who to focus on based on your campaign goals. Some goals require a more broadcast approach, others require fewer specialist journalists who have the influence to reach your target audience. Decide who to send your press releases to and who to engage with.
5. Creating your media plan.
The audience you need to reach must be addressed in a timely way with your messages. You must bear in mind industry events, milestones, timings of government publication of statistics, positioning in the fiscal year and anything that makes your message more topical and fitting of the news agenda.
We have a comprehensive business calendar at JournoLink which helps clients time their news for when journalists are seeking to write about events in all industries. We list awards ceremonies and other key annual milestones and seasonal and industry events. Once you have a timeline for releasing your news you know what to say in which target medium and when.
To take advantage of every opportunity, also read our blog giving four powerful ways to use a business calendar to raise your profile.
5. Measuring output.
It's often said “if it’s not measured, it’s not worth doing". The result of your PR strategy should be measured against your goals on a periodic basis. Measurement should be of process (e.g. press releases sent to numbers of outlets) and output (e.g. news coverage achieved, client engagements realised, sales response during campaign period). Both measures help in the creation of the strategy for the next period or campaign.
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Written by: Tetteh Kofi, Brand Ambassador for JournoLink
Tetteh is a broadcast journalist with credits on the BBC, ITN, LBC and Colourful Radio in news and current affairs. He published newspapers and has run training and crisis management programmes for multinationals and government agencies across Europe.